Sweetgum Handbags is Kim, a twenty-something grad student who works on her PhD in ecology by day, and runs her sewing machine at all hours of the night. She learned to sew from her talented mother Chris, and from the tried and true method of trial and error.
Favorite materials include denim, corduroy, canvas, woven suede, and repurposed upholstery samples. Custom orders are more than welcome. The business is based in the lovely town of Durham in the fabulous state of North Carolina, USA. All Sweetgum bags are designed to be functional, pleasant to look at, and to last you a very long time.
There are few statements that strike me so bizarre. “I don’t cook.” One might as well tell me they don’t breathe. Or drink. Or use the restroom. If you do not cook how do you eat? I always want to ask, despite already knowing the answer.
For some cooking is a dreaded task; another chore at the end of a day already filled with them. For those people the advent of jarred sauces, loaves of bread in plastic sleeves and whole dinners requiring no more than a swirl or two around a skillet are sanity savers. For me they’re the bane of it. But I wasn’t always this way.
My oldest daughter refuses to eat beans. As a matter of fact, she can pick through a bowl of chili eating everything but the beans with incredible accuracy and persistence. Ask her to clean her room and it “takes too long, Mom”, but she will sit for hours picking the beans from any dish without blinking an eye.
The rest of us, on the other hand, adore the musical fruit. Entire meals can, and often are, be based around beans — of one variety or many, we’re not picky. Black, dark and light red kidney, great northern, navy, white, and yes, even lima. Soups, stews, salads, pasta dishes; the options are endless.
And why not? They’re not only essentially a super food — packed with protein, fiber and nutrients galore — they’re easily grown and even easier to store. Whether canned, frozen or dried beans keep well for months and lend themselves equally as nicely to both hearty winter and light, yet filling summer fare making them prime candidates as a year-round local eating staple.
My favorite for meals is the black bean (chick peas, for obvious reasons — hummus! — win out for snacks.) Tossed with onion, sundried tomatoes, roasted corn, a generous handful of fresh chopped cilantro, a pinch of ground pepper and the juice of a freshly squeezed lime — or three, we love limes — they’re always a hit. Served warm next to fish tacos or cold as a mid-summer lunch all their own after a night spent marinating in the fridge, it’s versatile to boot.
What are your favorites? What beans must I try this year and in what inventive ways should I prepare them? Share with me your tips, tricks and recipes — my oldest daughter will not appreciate your kindness, but the rest of us sure will, and who knows her taste buds just might come around someday.
We were fortunate enough to be able to visit the North of Scotland this past week – in fact it is the furthest point of mainland UK.
The air feels a little easier on my lungs, I am greeted with the almost Welsh-sounding accent when I enter into a store and there is enough beautiful scenery you’d never tire of looking out at; even the sky is a work of art.
During the day it is blue skies and fluffy clouds, with faint rain that never seems to last too long. At night you can see stars aplenty twinlking away in the sky; very much like the famed nursery rhyme promised.
Another beauty from this part of the World is the Aurora jewellery shop that can be found in town up here.
Aurora are an Orkney based jewellers who specialise in making signature pieces, dazzling collections and they insist that modern machinery can’t create the jewelery they make – so every piece is handmade.
Their jewelery also comes in a very luxurious and plush presentation box – so no skimping on the little details.
I love to visit the Aurora shop whenever I am here – they always have something new and different in their collection, or they expand upon a much loved collection.
This break has been a welcome one for me and my little family. We’re doing things we don’t normally do at home; watching TV for hours at a time, forgetting to brush our teeth at night (read: I have been forgetting) and spending time with three of our favourite furry friends (two cats and a dog, just if you’re curious.)
I’ve always been wary of flying; it remains one of my least favourite things to do. So I’m a firm believer in taking holidays/vacations within the UK. I’ve been outside of Scotland and the UK many times; I’ve travelled to America, France, Spain, Germany and even lived in London in my early twenties. I’m not exactly a seasoned traveller but I have a passport and I am not ignorant of other cultures, customs and socieities.
In the UK there has been a growing trend (mostly due to low cost airlines offering cheap flight deals) of families jetting off to Spain or Greece. I often worry and wonder about the impact that has on our environment and at what cost, other than the price people pay for their holidays, these trips come in at.
I’ve read conflicting studies about the envrionmental impact that jet fuels have on the environment; with obvious biases going this way and that when it comes to certain studies and for me the jury is still out on it.
With my overwhelming-must-take-Valium-and-lots-of-it fear of flying and my love for this part of the World (plus it helps if you have ‘connections’ aka parents who live in these parts) I think we will be having a lot of British holidays in our near future.